Wellbeing Wrap is a round up of what’s hot in the world of wellbeing, along with practical tips, things you can try out, and lots more. This one focuses on ‘winter warmers’

In this week’s blog:

Essential Oils – warming foot blend
Herbs for health
Your wellbeing – “did you know?”
Meditating through grief
Craft your own wellbeing lifestyle

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Essential Oils – warming foot blend

If you suffer from cold feet (or hands), this stimulating oil blend is great for boosting circulation.  Use it after a warm bath massaged into the skin.

10ml diluted helichrysum oil
1 drop of pure ginger essential oil
2 drops of pure coriander essential oil
1 drop of pure rosemary essential oil

Add the essential oil to the diluted helichrysum oil and shake well before pouring a little into your hands.  Rub your hands together and massage into your feet.
For an extra warmth boost, pop on some socks once you’ve finished and allow the oils to continue to do their work.

Warning! Avoid rosemary oil if pregnant

See a previous blog of mine for relief from colds, which gives several ways in which to use the wonderfully healing eucalyptus oil

Other ways to use your essential oils:

  • Burn in an oil burner
  • Add to a diffuser
  • Add 3-5 drops into a bath
  • Put a few drops under your pillow
  • Add a few drops to pine cones or potpourri  
  • Add to a massage carrier oil for a neck, back, and shoulder massage

Always check the label on oils to learn how they can be used.  It’s important to understand the restrictions too, some need a 24 skin test, others cannot be used with certain conditions; e.g. pregnancy, on children, and so on.

Neal’s Yard essential oils, carrier oils, massage blends, roll on remedies, salves, aromatherapy room sprays and diffusers can all be bought direct from Alison at the Flourish therapy room or from Alison’s shop.

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Herbs for Health

Herbs are great in cooking to enhance flavour; they also provide many wellbeing benefits as well as acting as a preventive medicine.  Qualified herbal practitioners can prescribe more potent herbal remedies for medicinal purposes.

Here are a few of my favorite herbs and their wellbeing benefits:

Coriander
I adore coriander and always have a window ledge pot with a growing plant in it (along with basil, and in winter, mint – so I’ll kick off with those).  Coriander enjoys a sunny or partial sunny window ledge and is very thirsty, so water regularly.

Use it in: I put it in Indian dishes and on top of the served meal too.  I also use it fresh in salads, on top of naan breads, soups, it’s even fab in a G&T 🙂
Positive effects: Digestive system
Therapeutic use: Insomnia, depression and bad breath

Basil
Another herb I use almost daily is basil.  Similarly to coriander, either a sunny or partial sunny window ledge, not quite as thirsty as coriander but water at least a couple of times a week.

Use it in: I put it in salads, soups, fresh on top of a homemade pizza, it’s also a core ingredient to pesto, and you can use it in other sauces too.
Positive effects: Digestive system, nervous system, helps with regular bowels
Therapeutic use: Headaches, menstrual related issues, insomnia

Mint
You can get different types of mint (for example spearmint or peppermint), however, I’m referring here to the good old fashioned garden mint.  You can pick it wild near natural water (streams, inlets and around ponds), but don’t over pick it, nature needs it too.  Another super thirsty plant that will thank you for lots of sunshine.

Use it in: I put it in new potatoes as they’re boiling and then drop a couple of leaves in to wilt whilst the butter is melting over them in the pan (water out – lid on).  Also amazing on a top of a carrot, apple & beetroot salad (or any salad come to that).  The traditional mint sauce (I like to add apple cider vinegar and a tiny pinch of sugar).  It’s also fab in drinks, I particularly enjoy a coconut water, lemon cordial and sparking spring water with lots of mint leaves and ice – yum! Another good accompaniment to a G&T.
Positive effects: Antiseptic, antibacterial, blood cleansing
Therapeutic use: Easing acne, nausea, indigestion, colds and catarrh

Rosemary
Rosemary is so easy to grow (well it is in the UK), it smells fantastic and has all kinds of great wellbeing benefits. 

Use it in: Fresh springs on your lamb joint (ready to roast), in gravy as you’re making it up (strain out before serving), in stews or casseroles, on roast potatoes or new potatoes come to that.  You can also add the flowers to salads.
Positive effects: Antibacterial, helps with regular bowels
Therapeutic use: Helps rheumatic and respiratory conditions, fluid retention, migraine, shock, and fatigue

Garlic
Another regular in my food, and wild garlic is fantastic too and soooo easy to grow; because it’s bulb based, as long as you leave some behind they’ll multiply nicely.

Use it in: Dishes including Indian, Thai, Italian (actually the list just goes on), I like to put a few cloves in with my roast and then mash them into the gravy as it’s cooking (strained out at the end).  Add to mayonaise, dips, sauces, and butter to make your own garlic bread or cook your mushrooms in the garlicky butter.
Positive effects: Antibiotic, anti-blood clotting, balances cholesterol levels, improves circulation, fights infection
Therapeutic use: Colds, flu, coughs, bronchitis, hayfever

Oregano
I grow this in my herb patch at home, though I often end up buying it pre dried and leave the fresh growing oregano to the bees, they love the flowers and it smells great as you walk past it.  You only need a small plant and it’ll soon reseed into a huge patch.

Use it in: I like to add it to homemade mince meat based dishes (including spaghetti bolognese and lasagne), pizza’s, gravy, soups, tomatoes and salads.
Positive effects: Supports digestive system, anti-flatulent, antiseptic
Therapeutic use: This herb is a mild sedative so great in an evening meal if you want to relax (and works well for insomnia too), diarrhoea, chest problems including bronchitis  

Sage
I’m not massively keen on sage but as a woman who’s peri menopausal I feel I should start adding it into my diet.  I’ve included it here because this is not just about my taste, but wellbeing.

Use it in: Stuffing, egg, cress and mayonaise sandwich, chicken and liver dishes
Positive effects: Helps to break down fat that’s eaten (hence why we traditionally have stuffing on a roast dinner), antiseptic
Therapeutic use: Good for issues relating to menstrual and menopausal women. Fatigue, depression, sweating, mouth infections.

Dill
I don’t use this herb as much as some of the other, but it is another great one to have dried in your cupboard (or fresh).

Use it in: I tend to use it in a lemon and olive oil mix as a dressing for fish but you can also use it in sauces and soups, or on potatoes
Positive effects: Supports and cleanses digestive system
Therapeutic use: Good for fluid retention, cystitis and other bladder infections

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Did you know…

Nuts provide good amounts of magnesium which help to nourish your body and stave off the effects of stress.  Try eating before entering into, and during, stressful periods.

Frozen fruit and vegetables that are picked fresh and frozen quickly are just as healthy for you as the “fresh” version off the shelves.

If you take your mushrooms out of the fridge and pop them on a sunny windowsill (for as little as an hour), the antioxidant and vitamin D levels will be super boosted. 
‘James Wong – How to eat better’

Most people with type 2 diabetes could improve their health significantly by controlling your blood sugar levels through diet and exercise.
‘Dr Michael Mosely – The 8-week blood sugar diet’

Puffy skin, wobbly cellulite and a bloated, tight stomach are all signs of water retention. Check out the herbs above, some are helpful for this condition.  Also try to reduce your coffee intake and replace with water and herbal teas.

Echinacea can help to prevent or shorten the course of a flu virus or cold bug.  You can get supplements or herbal teas that have echinacea in them.

Excessive and regular alcohol intake increases the risk of mouth and throat cancer.

Regular physical exercise reduces the histamines in your body, this could help if you suffer badly with allergies such as hayfever.

Exercise releases endorphins into the body, our natural happy drug.  So if you’re feeling blue, get moving.

Meditation and yoga are both great ways to a calmer and more peaceful mind.

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Dealing with the loss of a loved one through meditation  

The festive season may be behind us, but this time of year if often difficult when you’ve lost someone you love.  Winter takes many people’s lives for all kinds of reasons, and in the NHS mental health sector we often see a rise in suicides and people in crisis. I myself lost my mum just before Christmas some 10 years ago, and my brother two years ago this February, so I’m talking from my own lived experience too.

When my mum died I was numb for a long time, my brain wouldn’t comprehend the finiteness of the situation.  In my deepest mind and soul, it felt like she was lost and I couldn’t find her.  She would often appear in my dreams, and I would even say to her in my dream ‘how can you be here?’.  When I awoke it was deeply upsetting and a knot would sit in my solar plexus.  This is a longer story that I’ll share in a feature blog about living with the loss of a loved one, but for now I want to share a meditation that I used as part of my acceptance and healing.

It’s up to you if you do this in bed lying down, or sat in a chair.  If you choose to sit make sure you are upright, comfortable, and your feet are touching the floor.  I use this meditation at the end of my prayers, before I go to sleep.

You’ll need to read through the meditation before you start.  I will be putting this onto the ‘Flourish Club’ resources as a audio guided meditation in the very near future, if you want to be able to access that and other resources, just join the Flourish Club facebook page @360flourish or email me at 360flourish@gmail.com 

  • Take 3 deep breaths:  Breathe in through your nose for the count of 3, so that your ribcage expands with air and your breath goes right down to your stomach. 
    • Hold the breath for the count of 3
    • Breathe out until you’ve expelled all of the air in your chest, making a continuous whoosh sound as the breath leaves your body
  • Gently close your eyes
  • Become aware of the space around you; the noises, smells, any tastes in your mouth, just notice, without thinking about any of them in particular
  • Become aware of your body; the weight on the chair (or bed), the contact points on the chair (or bed), any sensations 
  • Keeping your breath steady and controlled, count your in and out breath until you get to 10 
  • Now visualise yourself getting out of your chair and opening a door in front of you
  • Outside the door is a path leading to a hill, walk down that path
  • Imagine each step, how the ground feels beneath your feet, the fresh smells in the air and the warmth of the sun on your face.
  • At the end of the path you start to walk up the hill, you can see a figure illuminated by a bright white light on top of the hill, as you continue to walk
  • When you reach the top, embrace the person you wish to meet there
  • Now be in that moment with them for as long as you wish to
  • When you’re ready to leave, just for today, embrace them and turn to walk back down the hill
  • When you’ve reached the foot of the hill, walk back down the path 
  • Now open the door and visualise yourself sitting back in the chair (lying on the bed), feel the chair (bed) under you and become aware of your contact with the chair (bed), and the floor
  • Now become aware of your surroundings, any smells or sounds 
  • When you’re ready, slowly open your eyes, take a minute before you get up
  • Smile and feel the warmth of connecting with your loved one

If you’re interested in learning how to meditate, or want to meditate with me, I run private sessions and local classes

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Craft your own wellbeing lifestyle

As well as blogging about wellbeing, I spent time last year bringing together a life time of learning into a short book that shares lots of practical advice, tips and strategies for a wellbeing lifestyle.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Little-Book-Wellbeing-Flourish/dp/1791664911/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1547379172&sr=8-1&keywords=alison+braithwaite+wellbeing

The book cost only covers the cost of printing and is on sale at £6.49.  You can grab a copy on Amazon here – if you buy it I’d love to hear what you think in the form of a book review on Amazon. Thank you.

 

 

Supporting you to be your best and happiest self

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If you want a treatment or therapy to heal, de-stress and relax, or regain balance,  you can work with Alison in a number of ways:

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